Salary Cap Draft Nomination Strategy

Jul 26, 2023
Salary Cap Draft Nomination Strategy

The first fantasy football league I ever joined was a salary cap league, and I had no clue about general fantasy football strategy, much less how to navigate a more complex draft. Some of the first advice I heard, and I heard it a lot, was to spend the early rounds nominating players that you don’t want. In theory, this will flush money from the rest of the league’s budget and leave them strapped for funds when the players you want are on the board.

Over the years I’ve found this to be ineffective advice in anything other than the most beginner of leagues. I wrote about how waiting on players you want can derail your draft in my Rule of One article. There’s nuance to effective nomination strategy, and your approach should shift based on which point of the draft you find yourself in. It’s not always about nominating players you do want, but it’s not always about nominating players you don’t want either. By taking a strategic approach to player nominations, you’ll give yourself the information you need to solidify your draft plan based on your league’s behavior, minimize the odds of derailing your draft, and maximize the odds of grabbing late-round players at a discount. While an ineffective nomination strategy may not break your draft, an effective one can make it.

Other Salary Cap Articles: Studs and Scrubs | Striking at Value in Salary Cap Drafts | How to Approach 2023 Salary Cap Drafts (Tips & Tricks)

Early Rounds

Your first bid, and the entire first round of nominations, are as much about collecting data and finalizing your draft plan as it is about grabbing elite players. You should at minimum have a Plan A and Plan B strategy coming into your drafts, being willing to deviate towards whichever one best presents itself based on the early information. Advanced drafters may even have a Plan C. Ironically, beginners are more likely to have a Plan B than intermediate drafters, who can get overconfident in how they think things will pan out and put their draft at risk because of it.

Let’s say you’re in a basic 10-team, 0.5 PPR league. Your Plan A may be to attack strong running backs and fill your quarterback, tight end, and deeper starting spots with cheaper assets. But maybe half your league has the same Plan A, so Plan B would be to reallocate that budget toward the less popular positions.

Your goal early on is to watch how your league values running backs; will the money you’ve budgeted be enough to land you the players you want at a fair price, or is your league spending so much on them that they become overvalued? If you need to pivot, you should nominate a quarterback, wide receiver, or tight end to make sure that you can move on to Plan B. Once you have a couple of players on your roster that align with a draft plan, the rest of the night can be spent on executing your strategy while being agile enough to pounce where you see value.

It’s important in this stage to nominate players that would fill one of your plans, or else you’re wasting a valuable opportunity to gather information. If you are dead set on spending just $1 on your tight end, then nominating Mark Andrews or Travis Kelce won’t tell you anything helpful. Some argue that it’s always good to get money off the board, but you risk pigeonholing your own draft plan while letting another manager get a great discount.

There is no firm ending to the early rounds of a draft since it depends on your roster structure. You should continue to nominate players you want and gather information about your draft strategy until you have a firm roster construction finalized, which usually means your top two to four players have been drafted.

Continue reading for middle and late-round strategies.

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